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In his recent State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama frequently mentioned the importance of innovation for the United States economy. One of the reasons that North America continues to dominate the global economy is that conditions are right for innovation to flourish. Creativity is the basis for innovation. Scientists have been studying creativity for years in an attempt to understand its origins. So far, this research tells us that creativity does not emerge from a specific part (i.e., the right side) of the brain. It appears that different mechanisms control different types of creativity. Prevailing thought is that self-restraint and evaluation are suppressed when individuals are most creative. Research has a long way to go, but creativity will remain an important factor in business.


1. Review the definitions for creativity and innovation in your text. Are the two concepts interchangeable? Discuss how they are related and how one concept differs from the other. Use the “brick question” to illustrate your answers.

2. If recent research is accurate and creativity levels are declining in North America, what are the implications for business?

3. Examine the innovation process. The article describes creativity as involving both divergent (generating many unique ideas) and convergent (narrowing ideas into the best result) thinking. At what points of the process are these two styles of thinking most likely to occur? As a manager, how would you encourage both?

SOURCE: A. McIlroy, “Neuroscientists Try to Unlock the Origins of Creativity,” The Globe and Mail (Retrievable online at

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